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I’ve been stalking the German and Russian Burda websites for days in hopes of seeing the full preview for the August 2010 issue of BurdaMag, with no luck. Usually it’s up by the middle of the month, though sometimes not yet with the technical drawings. Finally, I decided to check with the experts on everything Burda, the forums at Hobbyschneiderin, the mega-geil online German sewing community. And wouldn’t you know it, one of the users unearthed the (sorta) full preview yesterday, though I have no idea how as it doesn’t appear to be linked off of the Burda pages anywhere that I can see. Clever and resourceful German seamstresses!

For now they don’t have the “fashion” photos up or the technical drawings, but the photos of the individual garments seem to be available for the whole issue. My verdict: lots of reasonable basics, especially compared to the July issue, and no real crazy, despite the titillating clown photos. On the whole, the general silhouette they seem to be pushing is somewhat boxier or baggier on top and skinny on the bottom, which is kind of the opposite of my general preferences. The issue has a lot of tapered pants and roomy tops, which is not a bad look, but not the best for my figure. Oddly enough though, the garment I’m most drawn to in this issue is this:

I know, right? Doesn’t seem like my kind of thing, right? I think the houndstooth wool is getting me though. You know how I love my menswear wool. I’m imagining this with a chunky teal or maroon knit scarf and matching slouchy hat, with skinny jeans and tall boots. And more interesting and detailed pockets. See, kind of cute when you think about it, no?

The other highlights are some elegant but practical coats that remind me of the sort that Tippi Hedren or Grace Kelly would have worn in a Hitchcock film. They’re less shaped than what I usually go for, but so pretty  and wearable I might have to consider them:

Ha. I just realized now that they’re the same pattern.  One is just fastened at the neck.

There are a couple of more fitted jackets in the issue, though they’re not my style exactly. I can see a lot of people getting excited over this one. But assuming that the hem hits at the hip, the sleeve length looks very “Go, go, Gadget Arms!” This is a fun optical illusion- the longer you look at this picture, the longer the sleeves seem to become. Try it!

Another item that I think people will get excited about is this camisole. I think it’s cute, but the fact that it looks like a frivolous summertime H&M purchase makes me less inclined to want to sew it:

Of course, there is the “Jackie O.” cocktail dress, which I know I will be tempted to make because I am a sucker for a back drape, but would probably see very little wear. If  I do this, I’ll probably opt out of the balloon skirt because it’s not the best look for short legs:

The draped dress that I adored from the early preview but which I suspected would not be included in the issue sadly is not included in the issue.  Boo hoo!

The tulip skirt has some interesting potential (it’s quite similar to others from previous Burda issues- I’d have to dig back to find what I’m thinking of) but I think the elastic waist detracts from the graceful elegance.  (Also, what are those things on the sides?  Tabs?) There’s a plus size skirt pattern with a standard waistband which is similar but so much more covetable. (Most of the plus size stuff is pretty slick, as usual.)

As I mentioned, much of the rest of the issue seems to be basics, such as plain skinny pants, long pencil skirts, and long sleeved t-shirts- not bad overall.  There are also a lot of peasant-y type shirts if you’re keen on that.

But then as I was flipping through the photos, I came upon some really cute stuff that I hadn’t notice doubles of in any of the previous features:

I know the band jacket fad might be a little bit played at this point, and that the skirt and top are themselves sort of simple and basic, but I really liked the clean but still feminine lines of these garments, and the sophisticated fabric choices. In fact, I thought these were so great that I was surprised I hadn’t seen other incarnations of them elsewhere in the issue. And then I noticed the caption. Yep, these are the kids’ clothes.

The size ranges for the patterns aren’t stated in the preview yet, but now I’m pretty curious. Juebejue and Kerry, are you wondering the same thing that I’m wondering?


Ordinarily the Selfish Seamstress it too wrapped up is important stuff like thinking about herself or doing things for herself or using other people for her own personal benefit to give a crap about anyone else’s emotional well being or mental health. But yesterday she got a comment on her blog from reader Katherine, who is obviously devoted and maybe just a teensy bit unstable after I didn’t post yesterday. Her words: “STOP DANCING! START SEWING!” Obviously, I have not been giving the public what it wants! Ordinarily, I wouldn’t care. But the minor freak-out made me worry if Katherine or others out there might resort to very desperate measures, such as torching a local Hancock or sticking a kitten with an entire box of Dritz pins, if I didn’t show some new sewing. And that might be more strife and drama than even the Selfish Seamstress can handle. Sometimes I almost forget how terribly, terribly important I am. Almost.

So last night (after my dance class- the Selfish Seamstress is not about to go without for your sake!), I finally put the finishing touches on my McCall 6035 blouse (thanks for the motivation, Katherine!), worn here with some self-drafted pants (the picture is making the color more vibrant than it actually is- it’s more of a standard navy in real life):

Okay, help me out here, because I’m not sure if I’m feeling this blouse. (See how bored I look in that photo?)  I went with the poet sleeve view on a whim after discovering that there wasn’t a classic sleeve with a buttoned cuff option and deciding I was too lazy to draft my own. Plus I thought the drama sleeve might be kind of fun and interesting.

I’m realizing that the poet sleeves conjure up two things in my mind: 1) My wannabe club girl wardrobe circa 1992 when my closet consisted entirely of black chiffon, white acetate, Depeche Mode t-shirts, black felt hats that I wore tipped too far back on my head, and poet blouses, and 2) catalogues with names like Coldwater Creek or Newport News that I only ever seem to see on the kitchen counters of my friends’ mothers’ houses. I think it is a pretty blouse that feels like it is utterly lacking in style. I’m not sure why it is that a similarly poet-y blouse looks so chic on Cidell, but so mom’s-going-to-the-office on me.

That being said, this pattern is a great basic which I’ll definitely make up again with different sleeves, and the fit of the bodice is perfect for me, after grading down one size to a 4. Melody had commented that she and others have had problems with the drafting of the princess seams which led them to not match up properly. This is one of those patterns that has the different pattern pieces for A/B, C, and D cups, so I’m thinking that maybe some sizes were drafted better than others? I used the D cup pattern and had no problems.  Just kidding, I used the A/B cup, duh, and the seams matched up just fine. Just checking to see if you were awake there. As you can see- the fit on this pattern is really good for me, with no alterations:

It’s slim fitting, the way I like most of my clothes to be, but not tight and it doesn’t pull anywhere. If I have any quibbles, I’d say that maybe I could have used a little less contouring in the upper back, as there seems to be a little space there in the shoulder blade region. But considering that this is a long-sleeved blouse, I suspect that if I removed that extra space, I’d also lose some arm mobility in this garment:

From a fit perspective, this is a great princess seam blouse for me, and I suspect it will become my go-to block for blouses. The fabric is navy stretch poplin and I did four fabric-covered buttons down the front (I knew I’d never button it at the top of the collar so I didn’t bother with buttons up there.

I should note that I’m currently in the middle of a bad run with Dan- he’s given me the thumbs down on this blouse (which I sort of agree with), the thumbs down on the Drama Queen Jacket (which I definitely agreed with), and the thumbs down as well on Pants-with-a-bow, and the vintage-inspired satin sheath (obviously he has no idea what he’s talking about on those last two, so I’ve stopped talking to him until he apologizes for having opinions which differ from mine.) What do you think?  Keep the wacky puffy sleeves or pull them out and replace them with some other ones?

Whew!  It’s been a busy couple of days here at Chez Selfish with little time to sew, and I’ve been making some sloooow progress on a McCall 6305 blouse in navy poplin. I’m kind of lukewarm on the poet sleeves so far- they feel a little bit current-day Meryl Streep or Diane Keaton- pretty and elegant, but a little lacking in edge, and maybe not really my look:

Anyway, seeing as how sewing progress has slowed to a near halt, I thought I’d look for something else to show you, namely these two enormous vintage pattern catalogues that I purchased a few years back. You know, the kind you flip through at Jo-ann, but back from the days long before Jo-ann. They’re McCall August 1957 and Simplicity 1959 volumes (did they really put these things out monthly back then??):

I love looking through these, especially the McCall’s one, as 1956-1958 are some of my favorite years for fashion. Flipping through them, I notice a number of neat trends that I don’t see much these days but that might just be due for a resurrection. I thought I’d share a couple of these with you- who knows? Maybe you’ll be inspired to add one to your list.

For today, I’m featuring the short cape, which was a staple judging by the 1957 McCall book, for both day and evening wear. It appears this little garment was even more popular than the bolero, which is what I usually think of when I picture a light layer over a 1950s dress. (All of the capes pictured are from the McCall book):

Although the short cape is often included with a dress pattern that has a full or semi-full skirt option, the cape is almost always shown with a straight skirted dress, which balances the flare and keep it sleek.

And I especially love the examples in which the short cape is actually integrated into the design of the whole ensemble, such as in this outfit, in which the pleats of the dress are repeated on the cape- how much more interesting and pulled together this looks than it would have with a plain cape!

Or this outfit, in which the cape physically buttons onto the straps of the dress, making for a cute open look, while keeping the cape on the shoulders. This would be so easy to make and add to your sheath dress:

Even very simple short capes add elegance and sophistication:

And check this out- the short cape worn over a jacket! Who would have thought? That’s almost like wearing two jackets! And yet, so much cooler- if I’m not mistaken, the cape actually slips under the collar of the jacket and then attaches right onto the jacket buttons. Oooh, I love brilliant sewing engineering!

I think this trend of the 50s may be due for a revival. In the last few years, we’ve already seen the resurgence of capes in general, usually hitting at the hip or longer and filling the role of light- to mid-weight outerwear. (Actually, now that I think about it, Burda 8/2009 did feature a short version of a cape- it was cute!) The short cape seems like it could fill a somewhat different role, and could also be worn by women who aren’t built like trees. What do you think?  Are you interested in seeing this one come back? Weigh in!

Also, let me know if you found this interesting- there are a lot of other nifty vintage trends in my pattern books that I’d be happy to show you as well :)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, hooray for the Russian Burda site. Like clockwork, July starts and the August sneak peek is online! Большое спасибо, Burda!

This time, I have to start with the crazy first. Because it’s just too crazy to leave it to the end. To preface with a little buildup, I’ve been pointing out for a while some of the interesting man candy that the recent issues of Burda have been offering, like Shirtless Guy from the April issue:

And Steamy Guy from June:

Followed up by short, doofy, young Hot-for-Teacher Guys in the July issue, which I honestly thought was about as weird as it could get (sit tight, it turns out The Selfish Seamstress was mistaken and it does get weirder):

And now, my dear readers, Burda is pushing the the boundaries once again in August with… CLOWN LOVE:

[10 seconds of stunned silence]

I mean…


I am interpreting it correctly, that they are meant to be a couple, right?  She’s not just at a circus where there happens to be a clown, right? There is some snuggling, no? The clown looks so pensive… I… I…

I guess I like his pants?

Let’s just move on.

August is always one of my favorite issues- it’s the start of the August/September/October/November set of issues, which in my opinion is peak season for Burda. I love the fall clothes and the coats, the substantial sewing projects that you want to keep forever, in between the frivolous, fun summer issues and the evening-gown-heavy December (and sometimes November) issues. And there are some really nice classic jackets this time around:

As usual, the plus options are classic, versatile, elegant, and wearable:

But I’m really really excited about the Jackie O.- inspired feature:

Mmmmm… I love it. I’m such a sucker for back drapes. And this strikes me as more Audrey than Jackie.

I think this next dress has some serious chic potential. It could go either way. I’m not keen on the length and I’m curious to see the technical drawing when it comes out:

(Actually, I just reread the text for this picture and it says it’s a jacket with a matching knee-length dress with a ruffle.  Hmm, doesn’t look like it, but okay.)

And finally:

Okay, I’m guessing by the looks of this that the jacket is definitely one of the patterns, but oh oh oh oh oh I hope the dress is too! Look at that beautiful draping! It would be utterly cruel of Burda to show us that dress and not let us have it. Fingers crossed!

So, the August preview is looking good so far- none of the garments in the preview are really crazytown. But you know what?  When you give one of your models a clown boyfriend, you’ve more than fulfilled everyone’s crazytown needs. Thank you, Burda! And I cannot wait to see one of your September models holding hands with a guy in a radiation suit or snuggling up to Swamp Thing!

I know I don’t usually post big lists of links on my blog, but there have been a lot of nifty sewing-related things popping up lately that I thought might interest you. Because, you know, I assume if it’s interesting to me, it must be interesting to everybody. Or at least it should be.

First up:

Nancy found the Burda archives!  Not the paltry ones on the German site that don’t go back nearly far enough or link to enough images, but the ones from the English language site dating back to 2006. I know lots of Burda fans (me included) were disappointed with all the great stuff about the magazine that disappeared along with the English language site when they redirected it to BurdaStyle (also a great site, but not the same content!), and in particular the super valuable archives. Great sleuthing, Nancy! To be honest, I think these will get blown away eventually once they’re done transitioning everything and we’ll lose access to them, but hooray for now!

Inkstain, Denise, and CarmencitaB (thanks, guys!) pointed out that my original dress pattern, the Coffee Date Dress (shown above are two versions I made for my friends Lindsey and Teresa in exchange for their modeling services) was mentioned in the Guardian’s online article “How to Make the Perfect Dress.” How flattering- you know how your Selfish Seamstress adores a good ego-boosting shout-out and a little international press. I actually love the Guardian’s DIY article series and even once managed to snag a free copy of an Alice Temperley pattern from them. (I haven’t made it yet- the pattern is kind of… inscrutable.)

Photo by Andrea Mohin/NY Times

As a huge fan of the New York City Ballet and its legendary costume designer, the late Barbara Karinska (I immediately recognized that tutu as her design for Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, that’s how much I adore her costumes), I found this New York Times article about refurbishing the company’s ballet costumes to be both fascinating and sad. As hobby sewers, the NYC Garment District is practically an infinite buffet of goodies for our sewing addictions, but sources and resources are disappearing irretrievably for the costumers, which means they’re losing their ability to reconstruct the costumes exactly as the original designers intended.

I know that everyone and their mom has been blogging about Jessie Steele aprons since they were featured in the new Sex and the City movie (no, I haven’t seen it, and no, I don’t plan to.) But they’re so delightful and dainty and whimsical I just had to show them to you in case you missed them. I’ve never owned an apron, and haven’t made one since the age of 6 (Would you believe I made it as a present for my sister? My Selfish skills were so poorly developed back then!) because there are always so many other real clothes that I want to sew more. But don’t they just make you want one? If you like that polka dot one, you’re in luck because Butterick 4945 includes a variation that’s almost identical.

And finally…

Yay! Arielle is back to blogging! She’s lived through a nightmare but now she’s received all of your generous sewing goodies, thanks to the wonderful Cidell and her beloved Nigel. Now it’s time to help Arielle get her sewing mojo back- pop on over to Fashion Maté and welcome her back with a hug!

Burda’s 7.2010 full preview is now linked off of the German BurdaMag site. (Remember, no more English BurdaMag site anymore, boo hoo!) Actually the preview has been linked off of the Russian site since this weekend, but I didn’t really have time to go through it.  Well, as the first preview suggested, it’s looking very promising indeed.  First there are the things that I want to wear:

That top totally reminds me of one I had back in college from Anthropologie and it’s making me nostalgic.

Then there’s the stuff that I really want to wear even though I’m not sure I could pull them off.  I may try anyway:

I have just the right wool flannel for those pants too. I love the pleats-with-no-front-fly look!

Then there are the things that definitely wouldn’t look good on me but that *you* should wear because they are kind of great:

And then there are the things that NO ONE should wear. I’ve harped on the ruffle sleeve blouse twice already, so that one goes without saying. But also:

I have to say, the “bones” of these two aren’t great to start, but the fabric choices are definitely not helping. Bedazzled purple for a vest just screams “crazy lady” and seriously- heather grey jersey? Are these the pants that harem girls wear when they go to the gym to shoot some hoops? I like how I’ve arranged those two images on top of one another too because they look like a crazy harem outfit together. Or maybe like what a genie wears to bed.

[Incidentally, the preview also clears up the “Hello, College” versus “Hello Colleague” question I posed in my post about the first preview. Even native German speakers fell on both sides in their guesses as to what Burda intended. In the full preview, that spread is labeled “Auf dem Campus,” which translates to “On campus.”]

Anyway, the Selfish Seamstress is tapping her fingers together in giddy excitement. It just so happens that Dan is going to be flying through the Frankfurt airport later this week, and he may just be called upon to snag a copy for his Selfish lady from Relay, as well as a couple of Kinder Pingui from Quickers while he’s at it. Come this weekend, she hopes to be flipping through it with selfish fingers all sticky with chocolate.

I stumbled upon this on the German BurdaMag website.  It comes out today, but what is it?  It’s EAZY!

It’s labeled issue number 1 and I haven’t seen it before. It looks like it’s meant to be a DIY fashion magazine (lots of “pimping” and “upcycling” and other refashion buzzwords) with some sewing patterns in it geared towards the younger set and the beginner sewer. I think it’s great to put out something for beginners, but the projects generally look more like “crafted” fashion than “sewn” fashion in my opinion:

I haven’t actually flipped through a copy of this yet, but a lot of the clothes look like they might be refashion projects (e.g. that dress on the bottom looks like two tank tops sewn together at the hems, right?) but the patterns seem to come in a bunch of sizes, and the cover says that pattern sheets are included, so who knows?

It’s definitely not Selfish Seamstress style, so I don’t expect I’ll be getting a copy for myself, but I see how it could appeal. The clothes have a definite American Apparel vibe to them. I’ve always assumed that since American Apparel uses (expensive) American labor rather than (cheap) outsourced manufacturing, that’s why their garments seem to have a minimum of seams, finishing, and details, which is not really the way I like to sew. I guess if Eazy gets people into sewing by being approachable and unintimidating, that’s great. Though I have to say, I’ve seen plenty of first-time sewers take on classically constructed garments as a first project with great success, and I think that first big accomplishment may even get people more excited about continuing to sew than a one seam skirt with no hem and its accompanying ooh-I-made-a-skirt-in-20-minutes-all-by-myself glow.

As a side note, Eazy seems to be an entirely separate publication from Burda’s twice a year Easy Fashion. Although Easy Fashion is geared towards a younger, trendier market than regular BurdaMag or Burda Plus, and towards the less experienced sewer, the main difference in the difficulty lies in the fact that all of  patterns are ready to cut and come with fully illustrated instructions like a Big 4 pattern. The patterns themselves range in difficulty on a scale not that different from regular BurdaMag. Also, Easy Fashion is published once around March and then once again around August, so I don’t think Eazy is meant to replace it.

But let me get this straight then. Burda launched an online community called “BurdaStyle” and then went and renamed their magazine “burda style” differing only in capitalization and the use of a space between the words. Then they have their “young” magazine “Easy Fashion”, and they go and create another “young” magazine and call it “Eazy”?? Granted I have no background in marketing, but doesn’t it seem a poor idea to give all of your products the same name? :) In any case, I guess this means that we should keep our eyes peeled for a BurdaPluz to come out soon!

In unfortunate news, there has been another passing in our family and Dan and I will be returning to New York for the next several days for the funeral. Posts will probably continue to be sparse for a bit longer, and sewing isn’t happening for now.

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on in the Burdaverse these days.  The old English language site now redirects to the online community, a merging which was promised a long time ago and never entirely panned out until last week, and which doesn’t entirely make sense now because the site content never really merged, with the exception of the fact that the online community now sells BurdaMag patterns. If I were an English speaking reader wanting to find out more about the magazine, I think I’d be pretty lost. But if there’s one thing that remains consistent no matter what name changes and site changes happen in Burdaland, it’s that the Russian Burdites are always on top of their shizz. Once again, the July 2010 preview is linked off of the Russian site ahead of the rest!

For those of you who were hoping for the continued appearance of buff partially naked men in your BurdaMags, if there are any to be found in the 7.2010 issue, they’re not showing up in the preview. But this could get freaky:

Yep, Burda’s going to college** and things are about to get preppy. With three short guys in dandy candy-striped crested blazers with not-quite-matching candy striped ties. (Seriously, has Burda ever actually *seen* a college? Or are they working from a 1950’s picture book about college? Shouldn’t one of these guys be carrying a megaphone that says “COLLEGE” on it?) Is Burda replacing the Central European princes that they normally pull in to serve as arm candy for their leggy ladies with freshly scrubbed teenagers?


Hey, why does the hot guy get out of wearing the dorky blazer? What kind of college is this?? Actually, I think I like the striped ones better. I’m actually liking the garments in the college feature a lot. They look like classics with nice details, not too basic. And most of the stuff in it looks really wearable, especially in their sophisticated yet casual palette of navy, khaki, and white. And while I’m generally not a fan of pleated pants (because I’m short!), is it just me or do the pleats get a lot more sophisticated when you get rid of the front fly? I’m really feeling those trousers in the top picture and am even thinking that maybe I could pull them off, for all of my inseam deficiencies.

But especially interesting is that after months of basics and simple shapes, BurdaMag seems to be taking a page out of Patrones and La Mia Boutique with the sort of trendy and youthful silhouettes and details that the comparatively conservative BurdaMag usually eschews.

It’s all very Bebe and Zara, yes? In general I think I’m in favor of them taking a more fashion foward direction in one of their features, though I don’t see myself making much of it because I’m not so keen on making things knowing I’ll only wear them a few times. And I don’t see that skirt going on heavy rotation in my wardrobe. More Patrones-esque dresses, very pretty and unusual for Burda:

And in case you still weren’t feeling the LMB vibe from this issue, have a look at this very un-Burda leather jacket:

Anyway, isn’t that so like your Selfish Seamstress, to whine and whine for months that Burda is doing nothing but rehashing what it’s done in the past, and then when they go radically different, she simply sniffs that it’s pretty and interesting, but she wouldn’t wear it enough to make it worth her while to sew it. Typical never-satisfied Selfish Seamstress! (But I am really eyeing those college clothes.)

But speaking of rehashing, some of the plus fashions are looking awfully familiar. In particular, don’t this blouse and dress from the new issue:

look an awful lot like this blouse and dress from 6.2009?

I’m going to hope that if Burda is taking previous issues’ Misses’ patterns and making them for plus, that they’ll eventually go in the other direction too :)

Overall, it’s shaping up to be promising issue which I suspect will have a little something for everyone. Even the crafts are pretty tolerable this time around, or at least not funny enough to be worth showing here :)

Though I completely understand if you, like me, need to get at least one WTF moment out of each Burda issue, and in case the boys-in-blazers weren’t enough for you, I’ll confirm again that Burda’s 1981 sleeve ruffles are back:

Oops, wait, no that was an actual Burda 1981 sleeve ruffle blouse pattern.  Here’s 7.2010:

Only this time, they’re taking a perfectly cute pair of shoes down too by pairing them with white ankle socks. Argh. Somebody turn the page, quick!!

[** UPDATE: Hmm. The plot thickens. After a couple of comments suggesting that the “Hallo, Kollege!” feature looks more like high school, I went back to the preview to have a look.  That’s when I realized that Burda is using the word “Kollege” rather than “College” which I had first thought. To the best of my knowledge the German word for “college” is “College,” but Burda used “Kollege,” which is the German word for a male colleague. Of course, that being said, German Burda very often uses English words in their features and titles because apparently that sounds hip and modern in German. Do any native speakers of German want to weigh in on whether the feature, which does appear to be at some academic institution of some sort, is intended to mean “Hello, college!” or “Hello, colleague!”? I can’t tell and now I’m so curious!]

After all, isn’t the best way to follow up an enormous pattern haul a trip to the fabric store to take advantage of the $1.99 Simplicity and New Look sale? Okay, the truth is that I would have let this one slip by as I wasn’t yearning for anything in particular from Simplicity, and quite frankly I *never* yearn for anything from New Look. Until this morning.

I was catching up on my blog reading, on which I had fallen sadly behind while toiling and shopping in Helsinki, and I discovered Amanda’s latest and greatest Simplicity 6909. And you know how I feel about a feminine dress rendered in menswear. Her version is chic and adorable, and I’m going to need my own for work. I might have put it off, as I’ve got other projects lined up for now, but when I checked out the pattern, I discovered this view:

And that is pretty much what I was envisioning for my new houndstooth that I picked up at Eurokangas. I was going to draft it myself, but I’d rather pay New Look $1.99 to do it for me.

I’ve only ever bought one New Look pattern in the past, and that probably over a decade ago. For some reason, I’m never drawn to them. But I think this may be because I have a hard time getting over the way they are styled on the envelopes. I’m often not imaginative enough to get over my initial impressions of them based on the photos, which is too bad because once I really look at the drawings, a lot of their stuff is cute with lots of potential. But I’m often not drawn in enough to take a close look at the drawings. Today I picked out three New Look patterns:

Those are 6824, 6587, and 6909. (Again, crappy cameraphone photos, sorry!).  My point about the styling is that I find that a LOT of the New Look pattern envelopes really don’t do a good job of showing off the versatility of the patterns. Instead they tend to stick to a very “Sunday Best” aesthetic of pastels and bedsheet florals for a look that emphasizes “pretty” and de-emphasizes “stylish.” I have nothing against pretty, mind you. Nor do I have anything against pastels or florals, both of which can be used to stylish effect. But somehow this aesthetic repeated so frequently and amply throughout New Look’s catalogue really make me think of an outdated home sewn-looking wardrobe. Maybe this is the market that New Look is after, and perhaps there is a vast sewing audience whose sewing aim is a closet full of garden party dresses and the pretty floral skirts of your favorite kindergarten teacher, and for whom “chic” is not of interest. But given how versatile these patterns are it’d be nice if they did a better  job showing off potential variety that they offer. You know, for the unimaginative people like me :) As it is, I find that only a handful of the photos and illustrations of the New Look envelopes look stylish (6909 is one notable exception, though I still take issue with the boxy fit of the sample), even though a lot of the patterns could probably be made into very stylish garments.

As a counterpoint, these are two Simplicity patterns that I picked up (What. I know I said there wasn’t anything I really wanted, but I was there and they were on sale, and they are cute. Whatever.) 2403 and 2648:

In terms of the patterns, these dresses aren’t that different in character than the New Look ones, but they are rendered in fabrics that make them look much more chic (and, in my opinion, just as pretty.) Look how much less home-sewn this dress looks. It could have walked out of Zara or Banana Republic:

Anyway, I don’t expect that New Look will be changing their stylists anytime soon, and if they’ve been around this long, then they must be getting through to the right people. I guess it’s up to me to develop the ability to look past the cutesy fabrics and see the potential for chic myself.

Or I can just keep relying on other bloggers like Amanda to make chic dresses so I can steal their ideas ;)

For the last couple of issues, Burda has been doing their full preview a little differently, starting out by showing the garments in isolation, not on models. The new 6.2010 preview is up and it’s no different. I’m a little torn on this. On one hand, it makes a lot of sense- people always grumble that the “fashion” shots on the models obscure the garments and make it hard to see what’s going on. This comparatively neutral way of displaying them give you a much better idea of what’s going on. On the other hand, without the wacky shots of models in strange context doing weird poses (and no crafts!), there’s so much less for me to chuckle and snark at, and therefore that much less entertainment for me to pass along to you. (It’s okay though, we already know from the initial preview that there’s going to be spray-tanned shirtless guys.)

Also, I think there are some garments that sort of need to be seen on a model, as they’re a bit hard to parse in disembodied form.  For example, there are some dresses that appear to be built for the proportions of a Giacometti sculpture:

And some pants shaped for some Picasso legs:

And some other garments that are just crying out for a body to make them look sane without reminding me of the figures of any artists in particular:

But overall, the issue is looking promising. The stuff above might be good, but it’s hard for me to tell without models. There are also some garments that don’t need any people in them at all to be gorgeous. For example, yum:

And yum:

And as I mentioned in my post about the initial preview, the maternity wear is stunning, chic, and versatile:

I may even snag this issue and tuck it away. You know, in the event that I find an appropriately damp and swampy environment for spawning thousands of Tadpole Selfishes in the future.

Thanks to everyone for your wonderful birthday wishes! What a lucky lucky girl I am to have such great readers :)  And a happy birthday right back to Lisa and CGCouture, who also celebrated their birthdays yesterday! And as my present to you, I give you once again my extremely important thoughts on the new 6.2010 Burda preview. Hooray!

Starting off, I suspect that Burda is trying out some new tactics. After some playful shirtless guy spreads back in April, I think they’re going full out romance novel cover with June:

STEAMY GUY: Oh Roxanna, I don’t know if it’s this glorious sunset, this romantic all-inclusive dinner cruise, or the notched lapels on your short-sleeved fuchsia blazer, but I can’t seem to keep my hands off of you and my shirt buttoned.

ROXANNA:  It’s not the sunset, it’s not the buffet supper, Steamy Guy.  We both know what it is and it’s bigger than both of us… it’s BURDA 6.2010!

Oh, and it gets even hotter when Steamy Guy gets a load of Roxanna’s tunic swimsuit cover-up thing:

(Is it just me or do they appear to be photoshopped over some sort of first-person shooter video game environment?)

Actually there isn’t all that much there yet from the new issue, so it’s hard to make much of a pronouncement on the issue.  But one thing is for sure: If there’s one thing BurdaMag loves, it’s a shoulder. And just ONE of them:

You might be rolling your eyes at this point and thinking, “One shoulder again?  That is so played.” And you’re probably right, except Burda’s one step ahead of you and has found new and innovative ways to do the asymmetric thing. Their latest strategy is to take one half of one top and one half of a different top and perform some sort of top vivisection to yield new and unexpected one-shoulder hybrids.  Brand new shapes, same old crazy!

Does anyone else see themselves using that pattern to make a symmetrical version of the left half of that dress? Or the right half? High potential for cute!

And this time, even the plus size ladies are not immune.  Not one-shouldered exactly, but it captures the flavor of a one-shoulder top through more half-of-one-top, half-of-another-top vivisection:

So wait… if even the plus size section isn’t full of beautiful, stylish classics, who gets them this time? Oh, it’s the lucky, lucky pregnant ladies! Sigh… how much would I love a spread like this for my non-gestating figure.  Elegant wrap dress:

Slim blazer with lovely details:

Classic slim and sleek coat:

Bold of her to wear such a high heel with the strap-on pregnant belly too.

It remains to be see how this issue will shape up, but we definitely know a couple of things at this point:

1) If you’re pregnant, you’re in luck with this issue

2) If you have one pretty shoulder and one that you’d rather hide from the world, you’ve got lots of options here

3) Things are getting hot hot hot in Burdaland!

After yesterday’s eye-opening realization of the uncanny similarities between some of the items in the forthcoming 5.2010 issue of Burda and those from 3.1981 and 4.1981 issues, I do have to confess today that I was cherry-picking for your entertainment. In actuality, the new issue has some adorable stuff in it (I’m sure similar designs were produced in the 80’s as well, but they’re not showing up in my two vintage Burdas). And 1981 had some absolute horrors to which the 5.2010 issue cannot hold a candle. Well, I say that for now.  Who knows what we (or our kids, or our grandkids) will laugh over in 2039 when they flip through our old 5.2010 issue.  Or more likely when they access it through the global digital archive using the ports embedded in their brains. Anyway. 

You want the good or the bad first?  I’ll start with the good so you can end on a chuckle or shudder.

Burda 5.2010 has a lot of very cute and feminine garments. Most of them are probably not things I would sew for myself because empire waists generally make me look shorter and stockier, and I also have be careful of precious details, which tend to look childish rather than pretty on me. But that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t look great on you. But most importantly, here’s what I want from this issue:

Love it- love the neckline, the wide set straps.  Hard to say without context, but I’d probably chop it off to high knee length. The print they picked is great too. There’s a plus size counterpart which is hot hot hot:

I love that cherry red. Kudos to Burda for once again leading the way for figure flattering plus size patterns.

This could get a little precious for me, but I love the pintucks and silhouette of this puritan-styled dress. I’m picturing it in black voile with white decorative stitching on those pintucks, with a pair of black mid-heeled Mary Janes and huge black sunglasses:

I think these two are terrific, though not for my figure.  But great styles, great fabric. (For some reason, I’m seeing that blue fluttery sleeved one being a stunner on the statuesque Allison C or Cidell. You ladies listening?)

Also lovely but most definitely too precious too look good on me are this flounced and flutter sleeved doll-style dress (wouldn’t this look great on The Cupcake Goddess?), and the puffed sleeve blouse (I’m seeing this one on Katie with her hot jeans):

I think I might be able to swing the blouse minus the peplum and in a less calico-y print. 

Okay, now that I’ve gone through my top picks and unsolicited targeted fashion suggestions, let me show you a couple of trends from 1981 that have yet to rear their ugly heads again this year.  (I’m kind of hoping that they don’t, but I get the feeling that they might.)  First up, the ruffled blouse.  Wait, you say, ruffled blouses are everywhere these days! Ah yes, they are, but the ruffles themselves are not everywhere. Notably, they are generally not all over the back and running lengthwise down the sleeves, as they were in 1981:

And the front’s not much better. Mmmm… knickerbockers….

In case you were wondering, lengthwise sleeve ruffles don’t get any better when you render them in plaid:

Something else I don’t want to see come back?  I can’t even think of a name for this. But don’t let me catch you wearing or sewing this unless you are a professional clown whose livelihood depends on this:

And I don’t know what that gold-spangled fabric is, but doesn’t it look like a treat to wear? I bet those elasticized cuffs on the pants and sleeves keep all the warmth trapped nicely between the synthetic fabric and your skin.

Also to avoid?  Extensive cross-stitch on your garments. If you absolutely must, a little on the trim of your peasant blouse, perhaps.  But not:


I’m all for repurposing and recycling fabric, but that doesn’t mean you actually want to look like grammy’s tablecloth.

And finally, horror of horrors, I just don’t ever want to see this bikini again:

This bikini top is so awful that I can almost overlook the fact that it’s being worn with coordinating high waisted parrot-print jams with a belt. I mean, let’s ignore the fact that women have a shape and require a little support, and just tie a strip of quilting fabric in such a way that the nipples are concealed and call it a swimsuit, okay? Yuck, yuck, yuck! And those who bemoan the revealing-ness of current swimwear may want to have a good think about this one :)

So after all that, aren’t you (at least sartorially) glad that it’s 2010 and not 1981? :D

Last night was a good night for sewing.  No, it was a great night. I didn’t actually have time to do much sewing, but I did manage to put the buttons onto my McCall 5525, which I am now calling ‘Key Lime Trench,” so that project is now done, photos forthcoming. But beyond that, I just happened to be at a German restaurant and someone had left behind a big stack of Burda back issues that they were trying to unload. And not just any Burdas but early 1980s German Burdas. I thought about grabbing the whole stack and running, but then I thought the better of it considering how many unused back issues I already have.  The likelihood of me suddenly wanting to sew lots of garments from the July 1984 vintage seemed pretty low, considering I haven’t even touched July 2009 and 2008 yet. But I did grab three of them (because I knew you’d want to see too!), most notably March and April 1981:

I didn’t really have any particular plan for these 29-year old treasures other than to flip through them, see if it would be worthwhile to make anything from them, and maybe have a chuckle or two with you. But then eagle-eyed reader Inkstain cued me in on the fact that the Burda 5.2010 preview is now available online on the Russian Burda site (again, how are those guys so on top of things??)

Inkstain asked if I had any “acid and grouchy” commentary regarding the new issue.  What?  Me?  Acid?  Believe me, after flipping through those awesome 1981 issues of Burda, I have nothing but good things to say about the new issue because it is a treasure trove of current looks that are destined to be classics. Girls, they’re not joking when they say the ’80s are back. And you’d better pick up your May issue of Burda because these are the styles you’re still going to be wanting to wear almost thirty years from now. In the year 2039. Check it out!

Hot in spring 2010?  Big ol’ shapeless shirt dress with band collar and bib detailing!

Guess who else loved this style? 1981! And ruffles are so au courant right now, so 1981 may even have the leg up on the hot new trends

The matronly chambray shirtdress is surely the Next Big Thing in 2010:

But it’s also a timeless classic from the dawn of the MTV era!

Khaki carrot pants with cargo pockets?

If you didn’t hang on to the ones you made in 1981, you’re just going to have to sew them again.

And while we’re at it, you may need a matching belted safari jacket:

Of course, savvy Burda Mädels know that the safari jacket is a wardrobe staple, and have decades’ worth of them in their closets:

How about this flattering ruffled silhouette for May of 2010?

Your mom might know a thing or two about that from her fashion plate days:

Or this dainty frock?

1981 offers up a couple of predecessors:

[Okay, all joking aside.  Is it just me, or is that second 1981 version actually starting to look pretty good? You know, take up the hem about five inches and make it up in deep plum?  Also, does anyone else also covet her shoes?]

Roomy blouse with a band collar for summer:

Burda 1981’s all over that!

Shorty shorts with contour hem?

You know it!

Actually you can’t see it in this picture, but the 1981 version does not have a drawstring like the current one does. In fact, it has a belt. That’s right- belted tennis shorts. Surely that means that belts for sporting attire are the next big thing on the style horizon. We’ll probably see it pop up in July 2010’s Burda, so you might want to go ahead and make this month’s version with a belt to keep ahead of the trends.  And you can tell people that you heard it here first- the Selfish Seamstress is nothing if not a style icon.

Shorty shorts too short for you?  Maybe you haven’t got the tight derriere you flaunted back in 1981 anymore?  Don’t worry, shorts lovers, because the versatile pleated-waist cuffed Bermuda is also here for 2010, ready to flatter any figure and cut the lines of your legs right at the knee!

Pair it with a matching jacket for the perfect sophisticated office ensemble:

Or try it in a fun print with a coordinating blouse for a weekend getaway!


Finally, let’s not forget a key piece to any classic wardrobe, the safari-themed jumpsuit:

Please note, however, that this look is updated for 2010 with the addition of elastic cuffing at the ankles to give it a sleek and modern twist. As opposed to the oh-so-tired, ho-hum, non-elastic pant hems we’ve been seeing for too many years – finally, a little fashion innovation to take us into the 21st century!

There you have it- I’ve got two data points in three decades of fashion, and from them I extrapolate that May 2010’s looks have got some real staying power. And that’s my Burda forecast. [Ok, for serious now, there are some really covetable dresses in the May 2010 issue that have nothing to do with 1981. Go have a look.  I’ll post my top picks later.]

Oh, and don’t worry- there’s lots more fun stuff from 1981 that I didn’t show here.  I’ll get around to it- you won’t miss out on a a thing from that classic fashion year.


It’s like the title says, I have a new best friend!  Now for those of you who have been thinking, “Wait  a sec… I thought the Selfish Seamstress was incapable of friendship,” you’re only partly correct.  The Selfish Seamstress indeed has no human friends, but she’s got her cat and as of today she also has double straight stitch.  Which one do you love more, Selfish Seamstress?  Neither. I love them both equally. Or maybe kitty just a smidge more. I have to admit, though, I’ve got quite the crush:

Yay! I thought last night that I was going to have to halt progress on my crafty McCall 5525 jacket because I decided I really wanted to topstitch it (to ward off some of the homemade look) and I didn’t have any topstitching thread. And today’s Easter which means lots of chocolate but no shopping. 

Then I noticed that wonderful little double topstitch icon on my machine, and just like that, the jacket was back on! 

As you can see, it’s a little tricky going around the sharp curves and corners because unlike with a regular straight stitch, the foot is going back and forth (imagine trying to drive in a smooth curve around a corner while simultaneously doing a 5-point turn.)  My stitching isn’t perfect, but overall, I’m pretty thrilled with the double straight stitch. Thank you, Husqvarna!

Luckily I had some matching lime green thread which I bought to use in a project for someone else which I never got around to doing. So double yay for a brand new spool of matching thread and the providence of selfishness! If I had my druthers, there’d be a fuchsia or tangerine lining for this jacket, but I don’t want to hold off until my next opportunity to go fabric shopping, which won’t be for days at this point. So I’ve got some blush pink in my stash which will do fine.  And when the outside is crazy polka dots, the fun lining becomes less of a priority.

And for those of you who are rolling your eyes that I actually bothered to write a post about double straight stitch?  Hush up, it’s new to me :) New best friend. Happy Easter and Passover, everyone!

A friend of mine once remarked that physically attractive women could be divided into three categories of attractiveness: Beautiful, Sexy, and Cute. I don’t think this is the only possible way of dividing the space, but it seems as reasonable a taxonomy as any. I also don’t think it’s quite so simple, as I find that women generally possess all of these qualities in different measures and ratios, and perhaps some even in equal measure. But I think my friend’s point is rather valid that for many or most women, one of these qualities is more dominant (Primarily Beautiful, Primarily Sexy, or Primarily Cute) than the others in their attractiveness. (I think the same taxonomy could also be applied to men, but I think people use those words differently when talking about men, so I’ll just ignore the topic of men’s attractiveness for this discussion.)

If the Selfish Seamstress may be so bold as to assume that she is at least somewhat attractive to some person somewhere (and we are talking about being attractive on the outside, as everyone knows that on the inside the Selfish Seamstress is purely hideous with no redeeming inner beauty), then she would have to also (somewhat grudgingly) place herself squarely in the Primarily Cute pile, rather than the Primarily Sexy or Primarily Beautiful pile. Moonfaced, round-eyed, and no larger than your thumb, this seems the most obvious categorization.

So why am I thinking about this today?  Because I’ve recently purchased some awfully cute prints (contrary to popular belief, the Selfish Seamstress does not hate prints):

That’s an Amy Butler polka dot cotton, earmarked for a light spring trench jacket.

That’s a bold floral Amy Butler cotton sateen in a light decorator weight, intended for a simple 3/4 length coat, to be worn with the simplest of sheath dresses and updo. (Sigh.  If I must be forced to admit it, I got the idea for such a coat after seeing a floral coat on some random lady on some random TV show.  She’s NOT my style icon, but I just like the coat, okay?)

This was a vintage find- 8 yards (!!) of cotton with a French market scene border print, destined to become a sundress with spaghetti straps and a full, full skirt. I would love to find a cardigan in that shade of French blue to belt over it. 

So what was the point of that whole prelude about cuteness?  Simply that I think that if you fall into the Primarily Cute bucket (not literally fall into a bucket of cuteness), you have to take especial precaution with your cute prints. A tall, skinny, exotic model can make a pink flowered chiffon Anna Sui babydoll dress look chic and edgy; the same dress on the Selfish Seamstress would look as though she had indeed stolen it off of a baby doll. For me, it is imperative that a cute print be paired with a sophisticated or even austere cut, unless I want to look like a giant toddler. 

Particular details of cut about which I have to be careful: the aforementioned babydoll silhouette, puff sleeves, flounces at the hem, Peter Pan collars, empire waists, a-line dresses (a-line skirts are ok), bows. Most of these I think I can pull off in some cases with a sophisticated or plain fabric, but you won’t catch any of them stepping out with any of the prints above. Incidentally, I would also warn the ladies in the “Primarily Sexy” category to be careful when pairing cutesy print + cutesy cut.  Could end up looking a little costume-y, if you know what I mean.

In any case, prints are still a gamble for me, and even sticking to simple fitted bodices and tailored trench details don’t guarantee that the garments I have planned for those fabrics won’t be flops. But I guess that’s just trial and error at work.

How about you?  What elements and combinations do you love and what do you know to stay away from?

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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